A Travellerspoint blog

Jasey and Bailey Day 5


Zsa zsa (what's up in Swahili) it's Bailey Roberts and Jasey Tragesser comin to ya live from the IU house cafeteria. We spent an incredible day with some amazing children with phenomenal stories. We'll break the day down for you in two parts; my (Bailey) perspective and then Jasey's.

Truthfully, I hate being put on the spot like this. I want for all you parents out there (probably everyone's but my own) to know what your children have been up to all this time they haven't been talking to you, and I don't want to let anyone down. So I'll just let the Owens, the Swiss', the Bulls, the Noldens, the M'Bouroukoundas, and the Fivels know that I was not with your children today and I really have no idea what they did so if you just want to stop reading now I won't be offended. 
Today we went to the Sally Test center. For all of those who like me at the beginning of this trip have no idea what that is, it's place where orphans and abandoned children go to hang out while they're at the hospital and not receiving treatment. There were around 15 kids already at the center when we arrived ranging from the ages of one month to about 10 years of age. We divided and conquered play time. Dougie, David, Mary, Layton, and Ellen headed over to the older kids to play board games and "legos" while Brenda, Jasey and I played with the youngens. I spent a majority of the morning with a little girl named Lydia. She has a neurological disease that the clinic has yet to pinpoint, but you could immediately tell something was wrong. Didn't matter to me and Lydia, we got along just fine. To the point where little lydia wouldn't let me out of her sight, or reach. After lunch we went to the Neema house, a place for orphaned and abandoned children that are affected/infected with HIV where they sleep, eat, learn and play. The experience I had there today was TRULY life changing. We spent 3 hours running around and playing with children who could hardly understand a word we could say, but it didn't matter. I have never in my life experienced such love from a child I hardly knew. I can't adequately describe what I experienced today, and I don't think I'll ever be capable of it. But hey, I tried.
 Now it's Jasey's turn.

From the beginning I saw this trip as strictly a service trip and that I would get nothing in return other than exposure to something I've never experienced... Until today.

Today my group went to the Sally Test children's center at the AMPATH Hospital. Children who are patients in the hospital go there to play with other patients, read, and learn basic math skills. 
These children don't get much affection and it was our job to hold the small babies and play with the younger kids to give them the attention they need and deserve. I started by holding a tiny, fragile, and absolutely precious one-month old baby girl that was more well-behaved than half of the kids in the U.S. She was fully alert the entire time and didn't fuss once.
About an hour later, the baby had to eat and I turned my attention to a group of about 10 of the older kids (3-8yrs old) sitting in a circle. I walk over to the group and one of the nurses asks me to read "The Three Little Pigs" to the kids... I opened the book and it was in English, which is ironic because the kids spoke little to no English. As I read, the nurse sitting beside me would translate each page to Swahili after I read it. It was funny because they would stare intently as I read in English, and laugh once it was translated. Looking at them, I could see that a majority of them had broken limbs or severe burns and yet, they were the happiest kids I've ever met. Their eyes were bright and smiles were genuine.

Later in the day, we went to the Neema House where orphaned children find refuge. At this house, they are provided with food, schooling, and shelter. Like the Sally Test center, these children don't receive much attention because there is a large number of them. When we arrived, the children were at the school on the grounds, but about 20 minutes later, they were running from the school house to the main house where we were. They walked in in their uniforms and came up to us and shook every one of our hands. They have clearly been taught correct manners. They changed into play clothes and ran into the room and told us to come outside and play. We run outside to the huge area of grass to play and on the way, kids would come up, hold our hands and tell us to run faster. They were absolutely enthralled that we were there and their faces lit up. 
Anything would entertain these kids, so I decided to form a line by holding hands and start skipping around and yelling "SKIP SKIP SKIP" The kids clearly didn't know the word, so they had fun using it in the right way and the wrong way. 
There were 2 kids in particular that would not let go of my hand. They would fight other kids who tried to hold my hand and if I let go for a second, they would freak out. I realized that just a simple touch makes these kids overwhelmingly happy... And then it hit me.

Not only are we in Kenya to serve others and make a difference in other people's lives, but we are here to open our minds, hearts, and spirits for them to positively influence us to live a better life.

Throughout the trip, everyone has noticed that Kenyans, even the poorest of the poor, make the best of their situation and are truly happy with their lives.
I was listening to a song last night by Kid Cudi called The Pursuit of Happiness and the lyrics go, "I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know that everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold." To me, it describes what I'm experiencing perfectly. The people who live in slums may not look like "gold" or shine in a physical way, but on the inside, they shine due to their raw love and happiness.
I've realized that I will experience, analyze, and figure out what constitutes happiness through the Kenyan people. I've never believed that any person can be truly happy because they must always want something. I've heard that Kenyans are happy people, but today I noticed I saw it and realized that happiness is possible and I will try my hardest to appreciate what I have and find happiness through everything I do.

Posted by badams 12:14 Comments (0)

McKayla day 4

Before I dive head first my amateur blogging, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! You are the wind beneath my wings, real talk.  You have given me the opportunity of my lifetime; you have helped me create my dreams into a tangible reality. And for that I am eternally grateful.  I love you.

Right now I sit cross-legged in the IU house cafeteria, typing feverishly amongst the chatter of several medical students. They sternly discuss the options of how to change Kenya, from creating sustainable job opportunities for those infected with HIV to treating people with 5th line drugs.  I first want to start out by saying that the people I am currently surrounded by are absolutely awe-inspiring in every way. The group of 11 other students and 4 adults are all amazingly incredible humans, and I am so grateful that I am graced to be in their presence in this beautiful country.  Whoever is  reading this right now, may you be proud relative or an involved supporter, these people have some big hearts.  Take a moment to appreciate any person you know on this trip, and fully appreciate everything they are. I would like to personally thank you for supporting them, and the entire group as well.  

We started the day with a trip to a nearby hospital, and I am not the best person to report about subject manner because I missed a portion of the tour.  In the span of moments I felt my good health fade, and I began to (excuse my colorful vocabulary) freak out. I felt like I had no outlet, like nothing could help me. The feeling of not having adequate medical treatment suddenly became more real to me.  It was frightening to even think about how many Kenyans do not have medical help.  I realized that if you don't have your health, you have nothing. (I'm healthy now mom, no worries)

This afternoon my group of 6 lovely students and 2 awesome adults had the pleasure of going to Naeema House. This is a home and school for Kenyan children with no parents, and the few hours I spent there were among the happiest moments in my 16 years.  We were with about 40 kids from ages 7 months to 14 years, and there was never a silent moment.  We all waltzed to the area where kids frolicked, and immediately began to play with them.  Soon the kids were crawling all over us, and the air was filled with laughter.  The kids were entranced by my simple wristwatch, played with my hair, and tried their best to pronounce my name.  Every person took their role: whether it was teaching the kids, comforting the kids, or romping with the kids. There was no judgment towards anyone; it was love in raw form. We did not know their story and likewise they did not know our story, but it did not matter. We were all one, and I felt the heart of the human race pulse through me stronger than ever before. 

It was pure.
It was raw.
It was harmonious. 
It was happiness. 
It was love.

Today I have felt a strong aura of love emanating from every person I encounter, but I believe it is not that love has spontaneously arisen in the heart of the people but rather that I have become more aware of it's omniscient power. 

McKK Bull

Posted by badams 22:42 Comments (0)

Day 3- Josh and dougie

Jambo! It's Josh Swiss and Dougie Barnard. So for a quick roadmap of this epic blog post, I (Josh) will give a brief summary over all the incredible experiences we've had so far. So after what felt like a million hours traveling, we arrived at the Nairobi International Airport. To my surprise, I stepped off the plane and found that everything in the airport was pristinely clean, the floors were vacuumed, everything was polished; while it was an older facility, it was quite evident that it was treated with the upmost respect. This was my first introduction to the Kenyan work ethic; one that embodies hard work and courtesy to all others. We spent the first night in Nairobi in a nunnery and before any of us could believe it, it was already the early morning and time to head out in our vans to the Maasai Mara. The Mara is a huuuge game reserve that we were fortunate enough to explore TWICE with our awesome drivers Erastas, Charles and Cyrus. We saw the big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant,cheetah and at the very end, the infamous black rhino)! Did I mention we stayed at the absolute most ridiculously nice resort? It was called the Mara Simba Lodge and to make a long story short, we were insanely spoiled. These first two days were great for group bonding and seeing all the animals up so close was a sight unlike any other; it is with a heavy heart that I must say the Indianapolis zoo is just not gonna cut it for me any more. In the afternoon of our second day in Maasai Mara we had the great privilege of actually visiting a Maasai tribe. Their leader was named Dickson and he gave us all a very warm welcome.... And proceeded to humiliate our un-athleticism when we competed in a ritualistic competition of jumping. Actually, Dougie held his own in the competition haha, it was kind of awesome! There was so much to learn from these great people which mr. Doug E. Fresh will cover in a minute. This morning we left the Mara and ventured out 8 hours on the roughest, bumpiest, would destroy any of our cars at home-- road. At the end though it was well worth it, on our road trip to Eldoret, we passed through the Nandi Hills which may have very well been the garden of Eden. Honestly, no amount of words could really do the sights justice, it was just vast sprawling vegetation; the most incredible hues of green that you could possibly imagine. Wow... I'm still taken aback from it. Also, we metDr. Joe Mamlin tonight. I'd could write a book about how moved I was by the work he does, but to save you the time, Ive just got to say he is a great man. To finish my part up here, I just can't say enough how thankful I am to be here. Though I've been siked about this trip for a year, none of my anticipation or fantasizing could really encapsulate how good of a time I've already had.

--NIAJE. This is yah boy Dougie Doug with the breakdown of some of the best moments of this trip thus far. Yesterday we visited the Masai and it provided us with a plethora of interesting moments to digest. Dickson thought I spoke Swahili and said "swali?" (question?) to me every time we got together as a group. It was fascinating to learn about the Masai culture and way of life. Walking into the mud huts had a profound impact on me. It is hard for me to fathom and comprehend the simplicity, small size and darkness of their homes. The Masai experience was very captivating in that they welcomed us as guests, sang, danced, and jumped with us, showed us their homes, and swarmed on us like a pack of wolves to sell us merchandise on our way out. And yes they pretty much took Josh's college tuition money by taking 1500 shillings from him in exchange for fire making tools (two pieces of wood). What a deal. The Masai experience didn't hit me until we reflected as a group that night. We discussed how the men have many wives and how young women have arranged marriages at age 15. My mind was spinning and emotions were surfacing when Obi One (Ken Kobe) dropped some wisdom that was a trigger point for me. He said something like, "Visiting the Masai was an experience that you'll take with you forever. It's hard for me not to get emotional about this (awww). We are all just so lucky to be alive. When you're on your deathbed you will look back at the day you had today." That pretty much did it for me. At that moment two things happened. I fell in love with this trip and I fell in love with Ken Kobe. It was the first time I've felt vulnerable on this trip. I didn't see it coming and my heart was pulling in two different directions. In my head I pictured a mud hut of the Masai right next to my now seemingly gigantic home. I felt guilty about all that I have. My heart bled for the Masai especially the women because of the freedoms they will never experience (example: freedom to choose a husband). Next my mind traveled back home to my sister Eva. I thought about where she came from and what a miracle it is that she is ours. I thought about where she might be today if we hadn't adopted her. That destroyed me inside. All of these thoughts overwhelmed me and I needed time alone. I returned to the room after our reflection and let it all out. After thinking and reflecting and listening to the songs Waiting on the World to Change and Waka Waka I came to the realization that my purpose on this trip is to shine my light on others (kenyans and members of our group) while also shining light on myself. If I can do those two things to the fullest, there will be no walls holding back my mind and spirit. The Masai are not worthy of my pity for this will solve nothing. Rather, the Masai are worthy of my respect and understanding. McKayla put it brilliantly by saying, "Our lives are no better than theirs- just different. I learned to transform my guilt for the insanely awesome life I have into inspiration to transform the lives of others. The tears that rolled down my face took with them the mask I've been wearing. I no longer felt distant, uneasy, guilty, or helpless. For the first time my spirit came alive and I'm so grateful to have truly connected with myself. When we feel overwhelmed and emotional and are not sure what to do with our emotions, the first person we need to share our feelings with is ourself. Long Live the Masai for they taught me an invaluable lesson. 

Tonight we met Sarah Ellen and Joe Mamlin. I have heard countless things about the beauty of these two individuals. I went into our get together aware that these people were amazing but I wasn't sure what made them so special. Tonight I was in the presence of two angels. From listening to Dr. Mamlin speak I connected with two awe inspiring conclusions. The first is that DM (Dr. Mamlin) sees no end in sight. He has goals and dreams that pave the way for more goals and dreams. His attitude of not being content with getting rid of AIDS but rather next focusing on establishing clean drinking water, sustainable farming methods and ways for all kenyans to receive the medical treatment they need is an attitude that is common among heroes of this life. DM also manages to maintain a humble heart that expects nothing in return for the work he is doing. He is one of the most selfless people I've ever met. What most impresses me about him is that despite his achievements and triumphs he has no ego. He doesn't think of himself as any better than any other human being. He also taught us a new word: fltr. Find em, link em, treat em and retain them. He and Sarah Ellen are proof that one couple can love what they do and change the world at the same time. After listening to him I have accepted the attitude that Nothing is Impossible. And it's a great feeling. 

This concludes Day 3 of our trip. Thanks for reading. Lala salama. 

Posted by badams 21:58 Comments (0)

Arrived in Eldoret

Hello all,

I am happy to say that we arrived in Eldoret happy and everyone is healthy. We have had very busy days thus far and starting today you should be starting to hear from the students. Yesterday we went on a full day safari and it was amazing. We saw all of the Big Five animals in one day! That is a rare event in the Mara. We were also fortunate enough to visit a Maasai village, which was eye opening to say the least. When the guide mentioned that a primary source of food for their villages was blood from their domestic animals (mostly cows)I am pretty sure I heard several gulps go around the room.

It was a full day of traveling and rest assured we are all doing well. Tomorrow we begin our adventures here in the hospital and the kids are excited. It's going to be wonderful!

Posted by badams 08:07 Comments (0)


Earlier today, the group was interviewed by Dougie. The reactions ranged from "I'm really nervous" to "I'm not nervous at all".

We can all agree that after hours in the international terminal of O'Hare, we are read to start our adventure.

Posted by badams 14:37 Comments (0)

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